Press Release

Bipartisan Committee Leaders Ask GAO to Examine DOE’s Relationship with Contractors


WASHINGTON, DC – A bipartisan group of committee leaders today asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) Comptroller General Gene Dodaro to examine certain Department of Energy (DOE) oversight practices that may impede mission performance. Specifically, committee leaders requested GAO examine contractor data calls – requests for various information from the contractors running the national labs and performing other projects for the Department.

“DOE’s relationship with its contractors has been a source of concern for decades. In 2014, a congressional advisory panel, commonly referred to as Augstine-Mies, described a dysfunctional relationship between DOE and its contractors. In 2015, the Commission to Review the Effectiveness of the National Energy Laboratories (CRENEL) also found that the relationship between DOE and many of the laboratories had eroded. In 2016 testimony before the Energy and Commerce Committee, the chairs of these commissions outlined concerns about the effect on trust resulting from potentially burdensome practices that many perceive limit the efficiency of work in the nuclear security enterprise and its national lab network,” wrote committee leaders.

The committee leaders continued, “In view of the importance of DOE’s relationship with its contractors, and the need to better understand the nature of concerns over burdensome practices – particularly data calls – we request GAO assist our management oversight and examine the following:

  1. How are data calls made from DOE and NNSA to its contractors, and to what extent are data calls intended to provide routine performance information to federal program and other managers?
  2. What sources of data do contractors use to respond to these data calls, and to what extent do enterprise systems reliably capture these data?
  3. Why do federal program and other managers make these data calls, and to what extent do enterprise systems serve their data needs?
  4. To what extent would improving the availability and reliability of data useful for federal program and other managers (a) reduce data calls and (b) improve DOE mission performance?”

The letter was sent by the following committee members:

  • Full committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR)
  • Full committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ)
  • Full committee Vice Chairman Joe Barton (R-TX)
  • Full committee Vice Ranking Member Kathy Castor (D-FL)
  • Subcommittee on Energy Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI)
  • Subcommittee on Energy Ranking Member Bobby Rush (D-IL)
  • Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA)
  • Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Ranking Member Diana DeGette (D-CO)

To read the letter online, click here.


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